Michael Mann fights back

One sometimes wonders how the scientists most reviled by the denial industry are bearing up under the onslaught.  Michael Mann is one of them, so I was interested to listen to him being interviewed by Chris Mooney on a recent Point of Inquiry podcast. Here is a summary of some of Mann’s responses (not an accurate transcript, though mostly in his words):

On the science:

The bottom line is the basic physics and chemistry of the greenhouse effect. Observation that the globe is warming and that the warming is unusual in the long term context fits what the basic physics and chemistry says. After decades of work by thousands of scientists round the world pursuing every lead – thinking of all the possible different explanations of the phenomena they observe – there is literally no evidence that calls into question the basic radiative properties of greenhouse gases.  You increase greenhouse gas concentrations, you will warm the atmosphere. Questioning that basic reality is almost like questioning the spherical nature of the Earth.

What scientists actually spend time debating and pursuing are issues like feedbacks – the processes that might amplify or diminish that warming. There are open questions relating to such matters as clouds, El Ninos, hurricanes, and so on, which are being actively pursued. But on the basic issue – the scientific community moved on from that question decades ago.


On the strategy of attacks on the science:

The critiques almost never actually discredit a line of evidence or a basic conclusion. They take some small technical part of an analysis, try to manufacture a controversy about that to essentially discredit the work by finding some small potential flaw with one part of an analysis.

On the hockey stick:

There are more than a  dozen reconstructions; every one of them comes to the same conclusion as our decade-old work that the recent warming is anomalous in at least 1000 years.  Our attackers never want to look at the big picture, never want to look at whether they have any impact on the bottom-line conclusions, because they know that they don’t.

Even if they had been successful in taking down the hockey stick, which they haven’t been, it still wouldn’t amount to undermining the central case for the science.

On concealing data:

All of our data was available in the public domain and any claim to the contrary was dishonest.  The question of making codes public is different and is not considered required as general practice. However I and my collaborators have made a decision to put every scrap of code as well as every scrap of data in public domain at the time we publish a paper.  We’ve gone beyond what the standards of the community are.

On Phil Jones request to delete emails:

It was an email he wrote in the heat of the moment. He was under attack.  Keep in mind this guy  received something like 40 freedom of information demands over a weekend. He was being harassed intentionally and the freedom of information demands that were being made were for materials that CRU legally could not even distribute.  These were frivolous demands. Under that sort of harassment people sometimes say foolish things – we certainly didn’t delete any emails and I don’t think he did himself

On the “trick”:

This is a good example of how those working to make mischief can take a term that they probably fully know is perfectly innocent in scientific lingo, but exploiting the fact that it sounds very different to a non-technical person. It shows the disingenuousness of those leading the attack. They intentionally misrepresent words and phrases cherry-picked from thousands of emails in a cynical attempt to distort the scientists’ views and cast aspersions on a scientific discipline.

On fighting back:

The idea that scientists under siege should unilaterally disarm, give in to the sometimes criminal attacks of the anti-science forces looking to discredit them and their science, not stick up for their science and their colleagues, not fight back against these criminal efforts to misrepresent them and to impugn their integrity – it would be terribly misplaced if scientists were not to do all they can to fight back

On the difficulties:

Our detractors are extremely well funded, extremely well organised, they have had an attack infrastructure for decades. They developed it during the tobacco wars, they honed it further in other efforts to attack science that industry or other special interests find inconvenient. So they have a very well honed, well funded, organised machine that they are bringing to bear in their attack now against climate science.  It’s like a marine in a battle with a cub scout when it comes to the scientists defending themselves.  We don’t have the resources, the experience: we haven’t been trained, we’re not public relations experts, lawyers, lobbyists, we’re scientists. It’s a classic example of asymmetric warfare.

Many of us didn’t believe it would come to this – the scientific case for the reality of human-caused climate change has been clear now for several years, though there is much we have still to learn. Many of us thought, perhaps somewhat naively that in the end science would carry the day, that the strength of the scientific consensus would be enough. I wasn’t so sure. But what we all underestimated was the degree, the depth of dishonesty, the dirtiness, and cynicism to which the climate change denial movement would be willing to stoop to advance their agenda.


A stout defence from Michael Mann.  What he wasn’t asked and doesn’t say is how high the stakes are.  But anyone who has taken the trouble to understand the basic science knows they are very high indeed.  The attack on climate science is an attack on all humanity.  Not one for which the perpetrators are likely to be called to account, and perhaps it won’t really matter that they’re not.  What matters more is that they call off the campaign, though one suspects that even if they wanted to, the forces they have loosed have so committed themselves that they will not heed any call to come to heel. Meanwhile those of us who are not climate scientists but can see the danger we are in must offer strong support to the science and opposition to the insidious campaign of denial.

95 thoughts on “Michael Mann fights back”

  1. Interesting to hear those vilified by the ignoramuses speak out. I watched a video a while back where Pachauri was interviewed on Indian TV, boy he doesn’t pull his punches. Nice to see.

  2. The “trick”, as mentioned by Jones in one of his e-mails to Mann, Bradley and Hughes, is a statistical method that is widely accepted in the climate community and is applied to proxy measurements in the years since 1960. It deals with the problem that some tree rings in certain parts of the world have stopped getting bigger since that time, when they ought to have been increasing in size if the world is warming. According to physicist Rasmus Benestad from the Norwegian Meteorological Institute and a blogger for realclimate.org, Jones’ reference to “hiding the decline” could have involved removing some tree-ring proxy data from the analysis after 1960 to produce a curve that agrees better with the evidence for global warming.


    Lets revisit that again

    could have involved removing some tree-ring proxy data from the analysis after 1960 to produce a curve that agrees better with the evidence for global warming.

    i.e Cherry Picking
    Of course, I a am confused troll. Can someone give me an explanation from the “scientists”?

    Please use your best patronising tone, thanks. Remember, I am a worthless troll

    Best Regards

  3. Prof Nomonpilot

    Thanks for your charming response.

    Mt specific question did not require the obligatory RC link.

    I was asking for some independent thought.

    i.e In what way is the following statement

    “could have involved removing some tree-ring proxy data from the analysis after 1960 to produce a curve that agrees better with the evidence for global warming.”

    i a valid scientific approach?

    Ley me explain,
    I have my a priori hypothesis of unprecendented 20th century warming.
    I look for evidence to support that hypothesis.
    I throw out evidence that doesn’t support that hypothesis.

    BINGO! My hypothesis is proven
    (see my previous comment on the cheese toasties)

    Please explain, without RC links

    Yours in humbleness

    1. “could have involved removing some tree-ring proxy data from the analysis after 1960 to produce a curve that agrees better with the evidence for global warming.”

      i a valid scientific approach?

      Do you think it is valid to judge the approach based on a sentence written by the news editor of Physics world, who paraphrases a speculation (“could have”) by Rasmus Benestad?
      It is the editor who uses the term ‘evidence for global warming’ and correct would have been to write
      “agrees better with the temperature record after 1960”

      and the references therein.


    2. “Mt specific question did not require the obligatory RC link.”

      Yes it did. I am not wasting my time arguing with a troll who only days ago threatened to “destroy us”, funny as that was. I have no more than a few minutes a day for you. less, even.

      If you don’t accept what is on that RC page then there ceases to be any point to me arguing with you.

  4. Checkzor, there’s no point offering you any explanations. We’ve already covered this topic in a previous post where I referred you to a link on Skeptical Science. You declared that you preferred your own interpretation. Going over it all again isn’t going to alter that state of affairs. You’re welcome to your own understanding, but don’t expect others who have followed the science carefully to be impressed by your conclusions. And for heaven’s sake lay off the confused troll line. You’re not confused. You’re well versed in the denialist line. And you’re practised in doing just what Michael Mann describes – selecting one small technical point in an analysis and trying to manufacture controversy over it, as if in some way it throws the whole of global warming science into doubt.

  5. My point remains unanswered then.
    And this cherry picking is established elsewhere.

    “If we get a good climatic story from a chronology, we write a paper using it. That is our funded mission. It does not make sense to expend efforts on marginal or poor data and it is a waste of funding agency and taxpayer dollars. The rejected data are set aside and not archived. As we progress through the years from one computer medium to another, the unused data may be neglected. Some [researchers] feel that if you gather enough data and n approaches infinity, all noise will cancel out and a true signal will come through. That is not true. I maintain that one should not add data without signal. It only increases error bars and obscures signal. As an ex- marine I refer to the concept of a few good men. A lesser amount of good data is better without a copious amount of poor data stirred in. Those who feel that somewhere we have the dead sea scrolls or an apocrypha of good dendroclimatic data that they can discover are doomed to disappointment. There is none. Fifteen years is not a delay. It is a time for poorer quality data to be neglected and not archived. Fortunately our improved skills and experience have brought us to a better recent record than the 10 out of 36. I firmly believe we serve funding agencies and taxpayers better by concentrating on analyses and archiving of good data rather than preservation of poor data.”

    I guess I’ll just have to live with the fact that you cannot see this is pseudo-science.

  6. This is a great blog but its getting bogged down ….
    Could I suggest that those of you from the science community turn a deaf ear to the denialists … it is inevitable that there will be victims of climate change … just ignore them and concentrate on solutions…..time will tell who’s wrong or right.

    I do appreciate that you all feel the need to defend your positions, but time is marching on ….
    What are the top 5 things that individuals should be doing?
    likewise communities, likewise the government?

  7. ” the links answer your question. As Bryan said, you simply refuse to read or comprehend. There is nothing for you here. Go be a troll somewhere else.”

    OK, folks

    I have noticed a tendency on this blog for those with valid questions that get unanswered to leave, and as you so eloquently state it, Professor Nommopilot, I will “go and be a troll somewhere else”

    I will leave you to your shallow attempts at scientific reasoning.

    One last thought for tonight.

    When you “climatically aware people” are taking the children away from their parents ( as tacitly implied by the group hug over Clive Hamitons new book “the realm of our species”), you can scare the little tots with this pearler from the BBC:

    Climate change ‘makes birds shrink’ in North America


    “Oh dear Rebecca and Imogen., look evil Daddy and Mummy are making the liddle birdies smaller by using their SUVs to drive to the mall. The liddle birdies are getting so small dey will soon vanish., Poor liddle birdies. Tell Mummy and Daddy they are bad people ”

    Once again, I thank you for reminding me that I am a troll, a semen stain on the blanket of reason, a skidmark on the underpants of Al Gore, and I especially thank Prof DappledWater and Prof Nommopilot for reinforcing my stereotypes of the climate skinhead, the narrow minded myopic cuntt, who has no intellectual value whatsoever.

    Gosh, what a great blog this is!!

    Thanks Gareth, you are a treasure!

  8. I’ll tell you what, Dr. Checkzor, you probably do need to exit for the sake of your cause; your flimsy arguments are making everyone else here feel clever. Providing what the psychologists call ‘weak dissonance’, which is actually reassuring to those of us who aren’t AGW skeptics.

    This one last post thing is a classic example. If you actually read the article, rather than react to it, (knowing, as you appear to, that it simply can’t be true a priori) you’d discover

    in biology, there is a general rule of thumb that animals tend to become smaller in warmer climates: an idea known as Bergman’s Rule

    So is this Bergman in on the ‘climate conspiracy’ as well? And these Biologists ? Or is it just possible that a change in climate may lead to changes in various characteristics of the species that have to live in it?

    Actually, it’s a a well-written, properly researched article, so you’ve actually scored something of an own-goal, I’d suggest.

    In fact, if you were a little smarter you might even have noticed ‘however, their populations are not dwindling. ‘ – ‘Bird numbers just fine in warmer world’ – what a missed opportunity for you (I apologise in advance if this in anyway contributes to the deniosphere managing to pick this up!)

    Finally, your “Rebecca and Imogen” diatribe is simply embarrassing.

  9. Bill,
    The reality is, for what it is worth, that “Global Warming” has become a joke, in the UK especially


    The sad thing is that there are probably lots of serious issues to address.

    But the “scientists” who have fed of the large erect “lingus” of Dr Pauchauri for the last few years have left us with a joke

    Shame about the planet though

  10. Gee whiz – to be held in contempt by such people! How can I live with myself? Should I look forward to being shredded by the razor wit of Viz Comics’ ‘Warren the Warmist’ or ‘Colin the Climate Nazi’, I wonder?

  11. Gareth, why don’t you put this little shit Checkzor in with Roger Dewhurst for a while?

    Come to think of it, could he just be Roger in drag?

    Moving on, Mike’s questions are good ones to think about:
    “What are the top 5 things that individuals should be doing?
    likewise communities, likewise the government?”

  12. Back on topic Bryan 🙂
    It is heartening to read such a sound assessment of the situation from Dr Mann.I hope the main stream media can be persuaded to start reproducing some of this – giving it some air. It’s all well and good those of us who follow closely the topic and are concerned, but for the person in the street going about their business, all they hear is some confused quibbling.
    I wonder if it is possible for our newspapers to publish this response, and to refrain from believing that they need to “balance” it with an opinion piece from the flat earthers?

  13. Well, on the Mike’s questions issue, one of the things we could do is publicly support people like Michael Mann and Phil Jones.

    Remember the appalling pressures placed on the likes of David Kelly (who exposed the ‘sexing up’ of Britain’s Iraq dossier) and Craig Murray (who was horrified by War on Terror ally Uzbekistan and wouldn’t shut up about it)? Mann and Jones are being systematically vilified by some of the world’s most cynical and ruthless propagandists. This is a terrible fate to befall anyone!

    One of the obvious points to raise is; which of us, if we were honest with ourselves, could survive such hyperscrutiny combined with hyperskepticism? So, you’ve never been dismissive of people who’ve hassled you at work or wished they’d effectively drop dead in a moment of anger? Never written anything in an e-mail that could be turned into your own ‘trick’ to ‘hide the decline’ moment in the wrong hands? How would you feel if this was not only exposed, but the whole of your integrity as a person and the fruits of your working life were then ruthlessly picked apart in a grotesquely one-sided manner on the basis of it?

    And surely most people could be brought to understand that painting a whole arm of science (veering lately to science itself!) as a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy with Jones and Mann as caricatured Lab-coated Machiavellis is not only absurd, it’s dangerous? Do people realise how much of the remainder of science and how many of the medical interventions that have (in the main) improved their lives would be vulnerable to the ‘perfection of proof’ standard being levelled at AGW? It’s not just a coincidence that so many deniers are also DDT / pro-smoking / anti-Darwinist cranks!

    And really, the CRU hack, as with all the time devoted to nitpicking AR4, really has turned up so little! This really is a point that can’t be repeated often enough. If ‘warmist’ hackers broke in to the Competitive Enterprise Institute’ e-mail servers, or Heartland’s, or Exxon’s, or any of several of Murdoch’s papers, I wonder what they’d find in the way of ‘gotcha’ moments? Might the results of the CRU hack end up looking like the proverbial Sunday School picnic?

  14. Macro, I think the anxiety about ‘balance’ is still alive and well in the newspaper world, and I suspect editorial staff are constantly pressured by the denialist community to provide it. I had a recent exchange with a journalist who wondered whether he should be providing balance for something I had written. I pointed out I was representing mainstream science and asked why balance was considered necessary for that. Also some journalists are still under the impression that there’s a serious scientific debate going on. They’re not all able to acquaint themselves with the reality. In our local paper letters from deniers outnumber letters in defence of the science by a large margin. I think it is often difficult for serious-minded people to bring themselves to write letters to the editor, but I wish more of them would do it and not leave the field to the deniers. I understand letters to the editor are one of the most often read sections of the paper.

  15. All the interviews of this type raise the same old question – where is the evidence that warming is man-made?

    Michael Mann is concerned with proving that the current warming trend is exceptional. But, so what? The standard IPCC contention is that if it wasn’t caused by volcanoes or solar radiation, the computer would pick humans as its next best guess. But you can’t scientifically prove anything by just nominating one of a range of candidates and saying “I like that one”.

  16. Australis, the tracing of warming to human causes is considerably more meticulous than your comment suggests. Michael Mann’s remarks about the basic radiative properties of greenhouse gases are relevant. “You increase greenhouse gas concentrations, you will warm the atmosphere.” The atmosphere is warming, we have increased greenhouse gas concentrations, there is no other apparent cause of the current warming. It’s hardly arbitrary to attribute the warming to human causes. For a more detailed, but not over-lengthy, discussion of the greenhouse gas radiative forcing you might like to look here on Skeptical Science.

    PS: Or at the link provided by Rob – I hadn’t registered the arrival of his comment when I was writing mine.

  17. When I saw the comment from the IOP that Rasmus Benestad said that “hide the decline” could have etc. etc. I wondered so I googled in a few different ways. I found no original reference. All that google delivered were scectic sites parroting the phrase. They all seem to have picked it up from the one IOP CYA letter.

    Does anyone know if there is any original reference besides the IOP?

  18. “The atmosphere is warming, we have increased greenhouse gas concentrations, there is no other apparent cause of the current warming”

    The warming is tiny – 0.161C/decade during 1975-2009 according to Phil Jones, while “natural variability” is 0.11C/decade. So that leaves five-hundredths of a degree to be explained – miniscule when compared with margins of error in the datasets.

    The only other causes that have been checked are volcanoes and solar radiation. There are a dozen others and many unknowns. Just last month, Susan Solomon et al discovered that water vapour in the stratosphere could account for 25% of warming.

  19. “there is literally no evidence that calls into question the basic radiative properties of greenhouse gases. You increase greenhouse gas concentrations, you will warm the atmosphere. Questioning that basic reality is almost like questioning the spherical nature of the Earth.

    What scientists actually spend time debating and pursuing are issues like feedbacks – the processes that might amplify or diminish that warming. There are open questions relating to such matters as clouds, El Ninos, hurricanes, and so on, which are being actively pursued.”

    I totally agree with this. I then find it strange that the rest of the article tries to portray people who disagree with the climate projections endorsed by the IPCC as industry funded attack dogs not interested in the science.

    1. Are you a stand-up comic, Australis?
      Your comment is no different to claiming “because earthquakes are measured on a logarithmic scale, earthquakes can’t hurt us”, or
      “because pH is a logarithmic scale, it is safe to drink concentrated sulphuric acid…”

      Get a life!

  20. Australis, you are clinging to straws; as I’m sure you well know, TEMPERATURE is not HEAT and water vapour is a FEEDBACK, rather than a DRIVER of AGW.

  21. C3Po I don’t think your characterisation of Mann’s statements is fair. The attack dogs are on to him not in a reasoned scientific discussion about the impacts of climate change but in brutal assertions that his work is dishonest, often accompanied by claims that there’s nothing special about the warming that is occurring today. They can hardly find enough that is bad to say about him. Or about other prominent climate scientists for that matter. That’s not science-based disagreement.

    1. Exactly. Hence the need for results to be generated, similarly, by non-science based methodologies.
      I sound a bit like a broken record; albeit I feel the sentiment is gaining somewhat.

  22. Rob – your cryptic comments aren’t that helpful.

    Temperature measures heat, and the amount measured (feedbacks and all) is trivial. Hence, Kevin Trenberth lamenting the absence of heat and calling it a “travesty”.

    Have you read the Solomon paper in “Science” on 28th January? The apparent reduction of water vapour in the stratosphere caused warming to reduce by 25%. This was a surprise! There are still far too many unknowns to justify any argument that AGW must be the default position, simply because we don’t yet have any other explanation.

    I’m not sure why you are branching off to earthquakes, etc. The article I referenced shows that the radiative capacity of GHGs is virtually saturated. Surely you don’t agree with that?

    1. Don’t play dumb, Australis. You are attempting to confuse atmospheric TEMPERATURE with the excess HEAT the Earth system is absorbing from the sun and cannot radiate away to space owing to the increase in GHG.

      That heat is absorbed across many Earth systems, including atmosphere, cryosphere (ice) and ocean, which is why a major component of AGW is “locked in” but not yet visible as an increase in atmospheric temperature. Trenberth was lamenting that we do not, as yet, have sufficient instrumentation to follow this heat through the various systems.

      As any school kid should be able to tell you, heat and temperature are NOT the same – if you don’t believe me, go have a sauna and, once you’ve acclimatised to the hot air, place your hands firmly on the hot rocks, which are at the same temperature as the air – the sound you now hear is your own voice, screaming…

      I see Bryan has already dealt with the Solomon paper – as for Watt’s logarithmic nonsense, since you apparently don’t understand that a 9.0 earthquake does 1000 times the damage of an 7.0,
      here is a fuller takedown:


  23. australis,

    let’s say I am trying seperate the polemic from the practical in what you say..

    Is the cited Solomon paper in “Science” satisfactory science. to you way of thinking..? If so, how so..?

  24. Australis, there are, as Michael Mann acknowledges, many open questions. But they don’t impact on the basic consensus about AGW. In other words there is quite enough settled to give us reason for deep concern. And reason to act. If we wait until all the remaining questions are settled we will have waited too long. The Solomon paper, by the way, is discussed here on Real Climate.

  25. Australis, so you also agree with the statement from Mann that the fact greenhouse gases cause warming is not being debated. What is being debated is the amount of warming that creates.

    Brian W, “Our detractors are extremely well funded, extremely well organised, they have had an attack infrastructure for decades. They developed it during the tobacco wars, they honed it further in other efforts to attack science that industry or other special interests find inconvenient. So they have a very well honed, well funded, organised machine that they are bringing to bear in their attack now against climate science. It’s like a marine in a battle with a cub scout when it comes to the scientists defending themselves. ”

    To me this statement is just nonsense and not in line with the earlier admission that it is only the size of the warming that is being debated. Scientists who disagree with the amount of warming caused by GHGs are being accused of being funded by the same machine that denied smoking was bad for health. That is not fair.

  26. Rob Taylor,

    with respect you may care look over.

    An abstract is not necessarily written in the hand or authority of a paper’s authors.

    That said, I sense some scrutiny is required as to whether this abstract(at anyrate) has befallen an unhelpful DQA (Data Qualifications Act) application. aka administration intervention in the significance or otherwise of climate change science.

    Bryan, my question to australis was not intended distract attention away from the subject of this particular blog, but rather to determine contrast in the way of contenders and their choice of material.. and yes, the RC link is a great place to start for anyone genuinely interested in the science.

  27. Tom, Susan Solomon has identified stratospheric water vapour as another Earth system component that influences climate on the decadal scale, thereby opening further avenues for research to improve climate models.

    This is how science progresses and offers no comfort to the AGW deniers.

  28. Bill McKibben recently posted an interesting article ( http://www.alternet.org/module/printversion/145838 ) on a technique that the sceptics lobby has successfully deployed to undermine climate science.

    In brief, over the years prosecuting lawyers have discovered a rather ironic syndrome – the more evidence you produce to build a strong case the more evidence there is to pick through, and find a technical fault with.

    So it is often not in the interest of prosecutors to build a huge mountain of evidence. A good barrister will know how to present a case with the most salient, meaningful facts.

    Transferring this syndrome to the climate issue means that the IPPC may have adopted an erroneous strategy in laying out a full-on comprehensive case – so big the media could not even read it. All the sceptics needed to do was to find one or two little technical errors in the mountain of evidence to try to dismiss the whole case on a ‘technicality’, so to speak.

    And that’s just what they did! And it worked a treat for them.

  29. This morning, I think my comment asking about the quote attributed to Rasmus Benectad may be misinterpreted. I could be a denialist looking for shit with which to roll a ball.
    But: This seems phony to me. There are no real references to this quote that I can find. The IOP is riding that bicycle backwards at dizzying speeds. Denialist blogs carry this story but all self referencing-no information.
    Is this quote accurate? I can’t tell. Is this quote made up by the IOP energy weasels? I can’t tell. Is this another denialist context rip? I don’t know.
    If anyone can shed any light I would be grateful. If noone does I will have to think that this may just be another wottless dirty trick.

    I heard something on CBC radio this morning. Unfortunately it was heard on the run so there is no attribution. Someone interviewed by THE CURRENT sais that uncertanty is important to science: without it there is no progress.

  30. rumleyfips, re “hiding the decline”: I went looking for the source of the attribution to Rasmus Benestad but couldn’t track down anythng as specific as you were seeking, so didn’t respond to your enquiry, thinking perhaps someone else might. However the term is discussed here at Real Climate in a post not from Rasmus alone but from the team, and makes it quite clear that there is no skulduggery involved. It was a pity the Physics World article didn’t spell that out. You’ve likely already seen the Real Climate post, but I’ll quote the relevant sentences here for the convenience of others who may not have seen it:

    “As for the ‘decline’, it is well known that Keith Briffa’s maximum latewood tree ring density proxy diverges from the temperature records after 1960 (this is more commonly known as the “divergence problem”–see e.g. the recent discussion in this paper ) and has been discussed in the literature since Briffa et al in Nature in 1998 (Nature, 391, 678-682). Those authors have always recommend not using the post 1960 part of their reconstruction, and so while ‘hiding’ is probably a poor choice of words (since it is ‘hidden’ in plain sight), not using the data in the plot is completely appropriate, as is further research to understand why this happens.”

  31. Thank you Bryan:
    I have already read that post on Real Climate, but I didn’t relate it to this allegation because it isn’t the same. Only by adding text, changing word position, claiming that one thought simple statement means the opposite and attributing a group statement to a single individual can the IOP energy weasles bleat even the feeblest porky.

    The funny thing is that I had read about the divergence before Nov.2009. The article was about dating archeological sites in the US Southwest.( Jareds book was probably involved in sending me to google). Brislecone pines, Yellowstone park and co2 were part of the conversation.

    Maybe archeologists are part of the conspiracy.

    I now believe this story is a complete fabrication of the anti Jones people in the IOP. If I am wrong please let me know, but please include urls.

    This type of behaviour highlights why they are denialists. Having no facts at their disposal and unable and unwilling to do the work, they make up something hoping nobody will check.

  32. rumleyfips, I had another look at the IOP submission after reading your comment. It’s pretty awful. It certainly impugns the integrity of climate scientists when it speaks of “the apparent suppression, in graphics widely used by the IPCC, of proxy results for recent decades that do not agree with contemporary instrumental temperature measurements.” The authors appear to have made no attempt to find out what the thinking of the scientists concerned was. I was inclined to see the article in Physics World as pulling back from the submission statement, but on closer examination it doesn’t really dissent from the words I’ve quoted from the submission.

  33. Sorry Checkzor, I asked you not to comment again on this thread. Bryan

    Rob, deleting this made your immediate response superfluous, so I’ve removed it – but left the more general observation that followed. Bryan

  34. I thought the Doctor – even if his name be Legion – wasn’t allowed to post on this thread anymore?

    (My amazing psychic powers will obviate the necessity to break your suspension yet again by responding, Doctor[/s], by pre-emptively squealing on your behalf; yes, this is an outrageous call to stifle your ‘free speech’ – on someone else’s forum, where they’re being rather more tolerant than your behaviour merits – and quite possibly to ‘drown you in data’, which doesn’t actually follow logically, but that’s apparently just fine in the parallel looniverse!)

  35. And on the subject of scientists coming out and publicly defending themselves, I was pleased to see yesterday’s announcement from the head of the CSIRO here in Oz –

    The head of Australia’s peak science body has spoken out in defence of climate scientists, saying the link between human activity and climate change is beyond doubt.

    The head of the CSIRO, Dr Megan Clark, says the evidence of global warming is unquestionable, and in Australia it is backed by years of robust research.

    The complete article is available here – http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/03/15/2845519.htm

  36. “Let’s imagine, just for a minute that the alarmists are wrong. We will re-engineer our society at great cost, and with almost certain poverty for millions of people in the short term.” – DrC

    Hmmmmm……..aren’t you sounding a tad alarmist?. And you can save the crocodile tears, there’s billions of the world’s population living in poverty now. Why the sudden concern?.

    Now let’s consider the alternative, let’s say the climate scientists are right, the Earth is warming and given the current state of knowledge it is going to accelerate further. If we do nothing to ameliorate the threat we will have doomed ourselves and future generations to misery and a probable collapse of global civilization this century.

    I know which course of action I would choose.

    1. We can have all the imaginary alternatives we want but it wont change the real world.

      What we have in the real world is a range of potential paths forward. What this nation has control over is our own domestic policy. We should then set policy with a range of future possibilities in mind.

      Q. What if climate models underestimate future warming?

      A. We have the framework of an ETS. We can continue to participate in UN negotiations. We can ramp up our ETS to match our UN commitments.

      Q. What if warming occurs but is moderate?

      A. Same as above but ramp up ETS to match our likely lower UN commitments.

      Q. What if climate change does not occur?

      A. The current ETS is still required in the next ten years to prepare our economy in case this doesn’t happen. Market intervention can occur as this is anticipated and eventually the ETS can be scrapped without huge financial costs.

      Q. Should we invest in renewable energy?

      A. Yes.

      1. “We can ramp up our ETS to match our UN commitments.”


        except for a very long (ie. several decades) lag between when emissions are cut and the physical consequences of those emissions are realised, as previously discussed ad nauseum.

        The current ETS will do nothing to prepare our economy for anything as long as it subsidises the people in a position to make useful changes to not change at all.

        “What this nation has control over is our own domestic policy.”

        And it’s reputation for strong moral action and policy leadership on a range of international issues (women’s suffrage, apartheid, whaling (til now), nuclear free…). that could maybe be used to persuade our allies to stronger action.

            1. Cheer up Gareth

              Believe it or not, we are actually all on the same side.

              It’s just how we achieve it is the question,

            2. We may already be screwed, if there is sufficient excess heat in the system to commit us to an ice-free world and an extra 70 metres of sea level rise.

              No-one knows for sure, but the paleoclimate record is deeply troubling.

  37. Hey guys,

    Anybody noticed how much the sceptics’ language has changed during the past 12 months. There’s a certain aggression now that used to not be there.

    In trying to understand the denialist phenomenon I looked to the works of Kubler Ross, she’s famous for her understanding of the 5 stages of grief that people go through when confronted by something that’s too big for the psychology to handle:

    1. Denial – “I feel fine.”
    2. Anger – “Why me? It’s not fair!”; “How can this happen to me?”; “Who is to blame?”
    3. Bargaining – “Just let me live to see my children graduate.”; “I’ll do anything for a few more years.”; “I will give my life savings if…”
    4. Depression – “I’m so sad, why bother with anything?”; “I’m going to die… What’s the point?”; “I miss my loved one, why go on?”
    5. Acceptance – “It’s going to be okay.”; “I can’t fight it, I may as well prepare for it.”

    I do believe right now we are mostly experiencing Stage 2.

    To expand upon these see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kübler-Ross_model

    Note that although Kubler Ross was giving insight into personal trauma, like death of a loved one, she had the insight to understand these processes in the context of everyday life, such as when an ardent sports fan sees, with disbelief, his / her team lose the grand final.

    It could be that the social sciences offer as much as the hard sciences in the understanding of the global climate issue and the human response to it.

    1. Interesting chain you present there.

      Predicts the alarmist reaction to the CRU emails fairly well,

      Stage 1, denial:


      Stage 2, anger:


      Hmmm, or perhaps the truth is that trying to disregard people who disagree with you on the basis it is a primitive reaction to hearing bad news is neither fair nor intelligent. Maybe it is you, Chris the Taswegian, that are exhibiting an example of denial.

      You see, you can not accept the fact that intelligent people disagree with you for fair reasons, so you need to pretend they are primitive and that the only reason they disagree with you is because they can not handle the truth with the strength that you can.

      If you can not agree that neither side of the debate truley knows the answer and that either side of the debate could be right then you can not have a well considered debate.

      “Ignorance, which thinks it knows what it does not, must surely be ignorance most culpable” – Socrates

      1. Actually R2D2 – denial is not a primitive reaction. It is fairly normal human response to a threatening situation.

        For that reason I fully empathise with denialists. In time I believe they will come around, they just need time. That’s my considered judgement.

        Being in denial is not a statement of lack of intelligence. It’s worthwhile remembering that good old Albert Einstein refused to accept plate tectonics (continental drift theory) for some time, way after other scientists had come to the conclusion that the theory was valid.

        It is perfectly reasonable for anybody to resist a theory that is being put, the difference on this occasion being that an awful lot may hang in the balance as the doubters slowly come on board. And in terms of science, it is a very small minority of experts who remain in a state of doubt.

  38. Why on earth does the transition to a low-carbon economy mean ‘certain poverty for millions in the short term’? We have to do it at some point anyway – the oil will run out after all, argue about the date as you will – and the sooner we make the transition the less abrupt and disruptive it is likely to be.

    It seems to me that this bizarre alarmism is a transparent – and implausible – attempt to ‘balance’ potential disasters; if you can psych yourself into believing that making a transition in an economy is every bit as terrifying a prospect as baking a planet then you can repress the obvious dissonance inherent in effectively barracking for a potential doomsday!

    It seems to me that what is really of passionate importance to many in the deniosphere is that the ‘Greenies’ not be right! Rather more important than the potential future of their grandchildren, even. Amusingly, this means that they’re even prepared to cast ‘Science’ as left wing (! – how many great conservatives must be spinning in their graves? perhaps we could use them to drive turbines?) because they cannot hope to undermine its claims by traditional rationalist methods, and so resort to the comfortable subjectivities of politics.

    It is indeed remarkable that the denialist movement is now so dominated by the far-Right, not traditionally noted for it’s enthusiasm for the rights of the poor, other than their right to be lifted from poverty by the magic of the invisible hand. And only by the invisible hand – pesky things like unions and regulations just get in the way, interfering with the beauty of the one true idea, and must be ruthlessly crushed accordingly. Never mind out own first world national histories…

    Perhaps a compromise could be reached here? Why don’t you folks campaign for decentralised low-carbon power systems (and associated technology) to be set-up and distributed throughout the third world, particularly where industrial infrastructure is sparse indeed? These are cheaper, more flexible and faster to set up – and much more inherently democratic – than traditional Western power infrastructure. Think of it; Africa, say, is a sunny place where all that PV could be put to better use than in higher latitudes.

    In fact, why don’t you put your money where your mouths are – don’t just lobby for it; donate to it! Demand to pay more taxes and increase Foreign Aid!

    (The sound you’re not hearing is me holding my breath.)

    1. @bill March 16, 2010 at 3:59 pm

      ” Why on earth does the transition to a low-carbon economy mean ‘certain poverty for millions in the short term’? ”

      You might want to read this article (which is one of many – just try Googling ‘Britain’s energy crisis”

      Quote: “All that mattered was that we must meet a target set by the EU, which requires Britain within the next 12 years to generate 38 per cent of our electricity from ‘renewable’ energy sources.

      At present, barely 1 per cent of this country’s power comes from the 2,000 wind turbines already built – less than the output of a single conventional power station.

      That is why, in response to the EU’s requirements, the Government is today publishing its plans for a massive new drive to build thousands more turbines, at the staggering cost of £100 billion.

      Here we are already into cloud-cuckoo land.

      To comply with the EU’s wishes, we would actually need to build at least 30,000 turbines.


      Britain has no committed to a 30% reduction in emissions by 2020. The costs of this commitment are staggering.
      Hundreds of billions of pounds, the likelihood of power blackouts, and “energy poverty” as British citizens struggle to keep themselves warm against the onslaught of overbearing energy prices.

      1. The scope for wind energy (a dilute energy source) to provide for a society that has been built upon concentrated fossil fuels has been overblown. The problem there is too much focus on ‘supply’ side solutions.

        We don’t have the luxury of energy choice if we are providing for an energy system that is asymptotically growing. We would have to have them all.

        But to be consistent, if we are to refer to wind energy as being heavily subsidised then we have to apply the same criteria and language to the nuclear plants that are suggested as alternative.

        No nuclear plant has yet been built that covers its full costs, especially if decommissioning and waste management are incorporated.

        Whether an ETS or a carbon tax is ultimately introduced, this will give a leg up to both wind and nuclear, the advocates of each will need to fight it out or leave it to the market as to which dominates the supply market.

        For others the demand part of the energy equation may also finally be given much higher priority by these market forces.

        1. Whilst I continue on this theme, I understand it is UK-centric but does bear relevance to the NZ market

          In the Guardian, George Monbiot has come down hard on the solar feed-in tariff that allows owners of solar panels to sell their electricity into the grid at vastly inflated costs


          The intro is particularly telling, as George Monbiot has been the darling of the Green movement until recently anyway

          “Those who hate environmentalism have spent years looking for the definitive example of a great green rip-off. Finally it arrives, and nobody notices. The government is about to shift £8.6bn from the poor to the middle classes. It expects a loss on this scheme of £8.2bn, or 95%. Yet the media is silent. The opposition urges only that the scam should be expanded.”

          I am not hearing anything from our politicians and policy makers on how the ETS will enable a low-carbon economy, and how much it will cost.

          If anyone has anything to add I’d be really interested to hear your views.

          1. Checkzor, Monbiot is not giving up on renewable energy, just claiming that sun isn’t the best source for the UK. He may be right, or he may be partly right, or he may be partly wrong. I sometimes find myself in disagreement with what he has to say. The Green movement as you call it is not a monolith. Regarding our ETS, in its present form it may well not enable a low-carbon economy. As the reality of climate change dawns on us we may find that we need to urgently couple it with direct carbon taxes and even some regulation. Hot Topic has many earlier posts on it such as this guest post. If you click on the ETS review tag at the bottom of the post you’ll see a great many more.

      2. Checkzor, cool analysis by the likes of Nicholas Stern and others doesn’t agree that the costs will be staggering. It seems to be largely vested interests who complain about the costs. We have to see this through because of the imperative of climate change; it is defeatist to claim before we start that it will cost too much. Put a fair price on carbon and see what inventiveness and entrepeneurship will come up with. We’ll be surprised. As many have pointed out the US altered the direction of its economy almost overnight when war broke out, and it turned out to be to the benefit of that economy. And it’s not all down to wind in the UK – wave and tidal power are in the mix, with a new development reported here.

        1. @Bryan
          ” It seems to be largely vested interests who complain about the costs. ”

          I would argue that those with vested interests are the common folk who need to keep themselves warm in the British weather.

          If renewables are so damned expensive and an immature technology, then I would argue that we really need to divert more R&D effort into bringing down the costs so that these become an affordable option in the medium term.

          Running around like headless chooks worrying about climate change, trying to meet impossible short term targets, will simply price ourselves out of existence and offshore the remaining manufacturing jobs we have to China and India.

          1. They’re not so damned expensive if carbon is priced as it should be. So far as lower income citizens are concerned there are ways in which governments can ensure that they’re not priced out of winter warmth. I don’t think it’s headless chookery to worry about climate change, as you’re aware. It’s inescapable in my book. The targets have to be relatively short term, because if they’re not we’ll be far too late to lower emissions. We’ve largely ignored the problem for twenty years, and haven’t much time to make up for those years. Meanwile China is getting on with manufacturing renewable energy products at a great rate and the west will be left behind if they don’t apply themselves to the task pdq.

            1. ” Meanwhile China is getting on with manufacturing renewable energy products at a great rate ”

              Yes, Bryan, you are correct.
              China is burning NZ mined coal to build windmills for NZ so that we can pay many times the cost for our electricity at no net reduction in emissions whatsoever, when we could have burned that coal at home at a far less cost.

              The readers of this blog might be interested in these comments by Daily Telegraph blogger James Delingpole, who has restated the interesting case where a steel works in the UK was closed down (minus 1200 jobs) and then another opened in India (plus 1200 jobs) with no net change in emissions whatsoever yet the UK taxpayer was saddled with a One Billion Pound cost for carbon credits.


              I can understand while Roger Dewhurst was outed from this blog (thanks for the link Bryan).
              Roger is a voice of reason in a room of madness.

            2. Dr Checkzor is correct in one respect, there is certainly an element of schizophrenia in the way both governments and individuals are reacting to climate change. But I am not sure what his / her solution is. From the above post, sounds like stick with coal?

              The solar hot water system on my home was made in China, as was my solar pv system and the greenhouse gas payback period of those is not more than a four years.

              But, again, it is our societal obsession with supply solutions that will make sure none of us wins in the long run.

              If energy consumption keeps doubling each 30 years (current trend) then we are pretty well up s… creek without a paddle. The much-touted wind farms and biofuels and fuel cells… and so forth… will not be capable of matching that growing new demand, let alone ameliorate emissions from current fossil fuel usage.

            3. @Chris #78

              Sorry, can’t seem to reply directly to your message

              Believe it or not, I am in complete agreement re. your comments on supply based solutions.

              I am staggered that we have these complicated ETS arrangements yet fail to realise that we have, in NZ, some of the worst insulated houses in the world. If we could only provide practical incentives to insulate and double-glaze our houses we may achieve a lot of our sustainability goals.

              Just to confuse your stereotypes about me even further, you might be interested to hear that I agree with James Hansen in this video on two points. Namely, that (a) Cap and Trade won’t work, and (b) the CRU should have made all their data available.



              (Mr) C

            4. Checkzor, I’ve said all I want to say. We obviously come at it from different perspectives. I suggest we let it rest at that. Delingpole of all people is hardly likely to affect my view of things.

              I’ve done my best to respond to you politely, but if you are saying that Roger Dewhurst’s flailings represent reason in the madness which is Hot Topic, and that is why he was outed from here, it seems to me that you are sailing very close to the wind. Are you sure you accept Gareth’s conditions?

            5. As far as I know I am respecting Gareth’s conditions. I am trying to open up an honest debate about possible tax and mitigation options. No one seems to have any numbers for me, but the UK story looks pretty desperate.

              Of course, the theory is that I am a member of a “far-right denialist movement”, which is about as far fetched as it gets.

              I have just finished reading “The Hockey Stick Illusion” by A W Montford –


              This book gets 23 5 star reviews on Amazon UK and is in the top 100 books on Amazon UK

              If you are worried about Michael Mann’s reputation and the “well-funded denialist industry” then you might want to buy this book and write your own version of events.

              Too bad that the CRUTape letters and HSI are now bestsellers.

  39. A comment on comments. As I’ve said before (repeatedly), I don’t like censorship, and prefer to allow Hot Topic’s readers to engage in robust discussion (preferably polite). However, there are some commenters who go off topic, provoke, or are gratuitously rude, and who produce so much noise that the “signal” in any discussion gets lost. Dr Checkzor is a fine example, Roger Dewhurst was another. Some Hot Topic regulars also find it hard to avoid rising to the bait. For them, don’t feed the troll is the best policy… A day or so ago, whilst I was away from my desk (trying to prevent a family budget meltdown as wife and children shopped around Wellington), Bryan asked Dr Checkzor to refrain from further comments on this thread. He didn’t observe that polite request, and so his comments are now automatically sent to the moderation queue so that I can decide whether or not they’re worth publishing.
    I like comments and discussion to centre on the subject of the post they relate to. But what happens if you want to discuss something that’s off-topic? A while ago I experimented with a Hot Topic forum, but after an initial flourish of interest it attracted little further attention and so I let it drop. I’m willing to experiment with that again, if there’s enough interest, but for the time being I’m happy to have occasional open threads where you can discuss anything you fancy. HT regulars: please let me know your thoughts.

    Dr Checkzor: you’ll come off auto-moderation if you agree to those modest rules.

  40. Keeping within the spirit of this blog, which Gareth has graciously accepted my comments on. I’d like to repost my suggestions that one may find the IoP comments re Rasmus Benestad and his comments on “Hide the Decline”, I’d suggest we take a look at


    [Note – this is wihin the context of the current thread, I hope]

    Benestad has replied to this article in the comments.

    I am not going to try to editorialize the article or comments, but I would suggest that from comments #9 and beyond tells an interesting story.

  41. re: #63 Dr. Checkzor
    There is no further information in the url you quote. There is no reference to the words attributed to Rasmus Benestad. Hopefully we no longer accept politicians who ” make their own reality”.

    Bishop Hill asks(1) if “he (Rasmus) is really saying it is acceptable to remove evidence…” Rasmus Benestad replies (2)” No.” This is a direct quote written by Benestad and seems quite clear. If he said “No.” , the claims above about removing data is false. We now have proof theat someone is lying: either the IOP guy who had no part beyond giving the dupes their talking points or Rasmus Benested. Mr Gill come on down.

    The misinformation about deletion is parroted in comments 20 and 27, but ( of course) with no attribution . No information, no proof.

    The few comments 9 and below are just embarassing for Climate Audit and M&M&M. Yamal data was demanded when already in the auditors hot little hands; hardly transparent. With all the information the auditor proceeded to remove some trees from Yamal ( firewood for the Canadian winter?) and move trees from another geographic area into the Yamal group. With the data massaged, truncated, changed, cherrypicked and falsified CA was able to prove that Briffa was a lying crook who should be in jail.

    The auditor’s massaging was, of course, detected immediately and the corrections made by qualified scientists made him look pretty inadequate.

    I assume Checkzor means ” the Chech Zorro”, it could hardly mean ” a careful fact checker”.

  42. I for one vastly prefer respectful discussion and find that “robust” discussion leads to outbursts of anger that we regret later. I am guilty of this. If Dr Checkzor is resolved to abide by rules, then I think the discussion would be a lot more productive if responders would also be polite. I have had far more useful discussions over emails than I had in blogs where trading insults ruins any possibility of mutual understanding let alone agreement.

  43. Chris @ comment 66

    Nicely put.. yet the matter of enough time remaining to effect adequate change in human behaviors etc..

    On that front, as it were, for those among you willing to stomach strong silent (?) strategy allow me say there’s more than one way of skinning a cat.. Certainly in the USA, where things can only improve.

    Since I have had more than my few comments already to this thread and out of time emailing this link in.. for which I’d welcome the scientists view of whether the “doming” mentioned already forms a part of ‘heat island’ observations or not..

  44. # 63 “I assume Checkzor means ” the Chech Zorro”, it could hardly mean ” a careful fact checker”.”

    I find Dr Checkzor’s comments (# 2) strike a familiar ring. Similar in form to ‘New to Denialism’, ‘Worthless Troll’s” aka Andy Skrase trolling OpenParachute

    and here

    – just say’n.

  45. Aha, Zorro unmasked!

    Chances are, Richard, that Checkzor is just copy pasting from material fed to the denialist zombie hordes by their masters in the fossil fuel industry.

  46. Rob @ #91,

    That’s more to the point. Not a good idea to focus on the individual, there is a Checkzor in Australia, Canada, Italy… you name it. It’s a worldwide phenomenon.

    URLs are dropped in all over the place, like quotes from the bible used to be. You can read anything in the blogosphere as you can with a bible.

    It’s also a mistake to presume the Checkzor’s of this world are in the payee of the coal or oil lobbies. Most of them are not, just folks who are in that state of mind. We can’t ignore the worldwide phenomenon and it behoves us to try to understand what drives it. Dialectic debates do not generate this much heat, there is a powerful psychology at play.

    That said, the thrust of the denialist arguments are very much engineered and paid for by well funded lobbies. I guess most of you have read this one: http://www.ucsusa.org/assets/documents/global_warming/exxon_report.pdf

  47. “Too bad that the CRUTape letters and HSI are now bestsellers.”

    Checkzor. Too bad indeed – especially because it continues to lock in the meme that if the hockey stick is wrong then AGW is wrong. Can I ask, if there was a book (or blog) that did a take down, with verifiable way to check the truth, would you read it? Would it change your estimation of Mann?

    On the subject of sustainable energy, have you had a look at “Sustainable Energy – without the hot air” from MacKay? The UK situation is the one mostly discussed. I hope your reading list also includes some books on science written by scientists in the field.

  48. That ‘new to denialism’ link was fascinating.

    I think the descriptor ‘organic spambot’ seems apt – but does anyone know if this happens in the other direction? I’m genuinely curious – do deniosphere blogs get similar treatment from warmist trolls? I’d tend to assume the incidence was much lower, but maybe I’m wrong – I’m sure if such a phenomenon exist whoever is playing ‘Doctor Checkzor’ today will be able to locate a few links to it in the cut-and-paste library!

    As for the ‘massive economic harm’ argument: one, I doubt it; two, we’re going to have to make the transition one day anyway; three, I don’t buy Bjorn Lomborg’s insanely reckless and ahistoric ‘if we carry on with business as usual we’ll all be so rich in the future each Bangledeshi will be able to afford their own personal seawall’ argument (yes, this is a parody, but it’s essentially accurate); four, lots of energy efficiency strategies have a negative cost or short pay-back period; five, if you want to talk about massive disruption and human misery let’s consider a world with 450ppm+!

    Overall the (inherently dubious) argument that the poor – often a fairly new target for concern for much of the Right – are going to freeze in their beds due to higher electricity costs rather assumes we’re going to stand by and let them! Us interventionists don’t believe in leaving the market to do its work for good or ill, remember?

    It reminds me of nuclear advocate Sir Ernest Titterton’s assertion that the efficiency of PV and solar hot water in Australia would be severely impaired over time due to dust build up on the panels; what he failed to mention is that one might sweep or rinse it off! (Brian Martin ‘Nuclear Knights 1980 p25)

Leave a Reply